Originally Published: September 27, 2017 5:53 a.m.
Parkinson’s disease is a chronic and progressive movement disorder. One of the first steps to living with the disease is to understand it.
When an individual has Parkinson’s disease, vital nerve cells in the brain — called neurons — malfunction and die. Some of these dying neurons produce dopamine, a chemical that sends messages to the part of the brain that controls the body’s movement and coordination. The amount of dopamine decreases as Parkinson’s disease progresses, which causes difficulty for an individual to control his or her body’s movements.
More than 1 million people live with Parkinson’s disease in the United States, with symptoms varying from person to person. Some symptoms of the disease are easy to see, while others are hard to detect. Symptoms often begin on one side of the body, but eventually will affect both sides as the disease progresses. Signs of Parkinson’s disease can include:
Tremors or shaking of a body part
Slowness of movements
Difficulty with walking or balance
Muscle stiffness or rigidity
Voice softening or slurring of words
Loss of automatic movements
such as eye blinking or smiling
Handwriting becomes smaller
Stooping or hunching over
While there is no known cause or cure for Parkinson’s disease, individuals can take an active role in their health to help control symptoms and manage the disease. Research has shown that a combined focus on medication management and intensive rehabilitation in an inpatient rehabilitation setting can dramatically improve function and quality of life in individuals with Parkinson’s disease.
An individual treated through an inpatient rehabilitation facility is offered the latest in rehabilitative technology and a multi-disciplinary approach that provides the expertise of numerous healthcare professionals including physicians, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech pathologists,
dietitians, case managers, nurses, and more. Members of the healthcare
team work with the individual, family members, and his or her physician to develop a customized plan of care to meet needs and goals.
The treatments provided by the multidisciplinary team can address a number of issues, including:
Muscle tone/tremor management
Speed of movements
Fatigue and endurance
Use of adaptive equipment
Deep brain stimulator monitoring
Impaired memory, problem-solving, and behavior
Self-care skills, such as feeding
Bowel and bladder training
Education on fall prevention
and home safety
Voice and speech impairments
Range of motion, trunk mobility, rigidity reduction
Members of the health care team remain aware of each other, communicate regularly, and coordinate treatments and medications to allow for the best possible outcome.
Learn more about Parkinson treatments available at Mountain Valley Regional Rehabilitation
Hospital by calling 928-759-8800.
Karen Russell is Community Liaison of Mountain Valley Regional Rehabilitation Hospital.